With the fall season beginning on Sunday, it is time for football, cooler days and changing leaves. However, the changing season also brings the inevitable need for yard cleanup.
All DuPage County residents live in a watershed, meaning most everything entering storm drains eventually runs into rivers or streams. In autumn, leaves are oftentimes blown or swept into storm drains and waterways and can become a source of water pollution. Once they reach waterways, leaves decompose and release phosphorous into the water, which can result in algae blooms and decreased oxygen for fish.
However, pollutants are not the only problem. Leaves can also build up along curbs, gutters and storm drains, which blocks stormwater runoff from entering this drainage infrastructure. Should a major weather event occur, this can lead to localized flooding.
DuPage County residents can help to keep excess leaves out of storm sewers and waterways by engaging in a number of activities.
• Start a compost pile or add leaves to an existing one. While the organic debris is not ideal for aquatic life, composted leaves and other organic materials are an excellent resource for fertilizing your garden in the summer months. It provides necessary nutrients, while also reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
• Leaves can be chopped into small pieces using a mulching mower, which will decompose directly on lawns. The leaf pieces can also be collected and spread around flowerbeds and shrubs as mulch.
• Residents may also contact their local municipality or waste hauler for information on leaf removal services.